Prayer for Newtown II

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Lord, we cannot
lift up our hearts
today. The hot
breath of chaos draws
tears from our eyes.
We crouch in silent 
playgrounds trembling
as little ghosts
tumble by in wakes
of leaves. We stare
hollow-eyed as we
enumerate the paths
of could have
lead to anywhere
but here. We press
against the door,
hide in the closet,
call to you,
but evil seeks us
out and we cannot
lift up our hearts
because we are
placing them in a
score of tiny

Prayer for Newtown I

In this time
of trial I ask not
for the emptied skull
of my enemy, your
intercession in flame
and retribution, the
cessation of bloody
palms, or a salve for
all the skin-stripped 
and salted breathless
held souls of America.

I do not ask for
the return of a Savior
whose death for our
sins seems a half
measure compared to
the grinning demons
our lost boys become.

I do not ask for hope;
I ask for amnesty.

You say we stole
the knowledge
of good & evil -
let us return it.

If not, finish us 
off for good
before we do it
for evil.

Newtown’s Law

Friday, 14 December 2012

there are many holes
too wide and deep
to be filled by eyes they
are stepped
gingerly of
heels placed
care a
blind dance
averted of
shaking hands
circumscribing the void
this pit of
silent static
and dead children
no one
looks up
lead keeps 

Some tragedies are be­yond my scope of em­pa­thy. Some ra­tio­nales ex­ceed my ca­pac­ity to set aside love. If I can’t write about I try to write around, to show the shape of what I can’t de­scribe. This poem could ap­ply to any gun mas­sacre, but to­day it is for Newtown, CT.


Thursday, 13 December 2012

Three named
clothespins play
daily hopscotch on
three sheets of
construction paper.
The dog is on
red. We caught her on
the couch. My son (on green)
is the arbiter of her color and
mine. I choose his, but he
moves the pins.
I should probably be
on yellow
every day. I'm
lucky he's in

Prayer and Agoniste

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

It derived from the blown and cratered
gristle of Sinai, oral lore codified
by relentless centuries of infant skin
scraps, torn hair, and bloody stones
yet, now, once, we upon a

time saw a singular sheep, fresh
sheared, in-penned, dulled by
childish pats, ever beshepherded.
once seen, but not since.
and, told we are sheep for 

shepherds, sinly conscience
obstinate, abstinent, stolen from
Eden, so its use must be wrong, right
from preying judas goats.

O my God, 
to be a farmer like Cain, the sacrifice
accepted as rot rather than holocaust,
a season, then renewal, time more your style.
O my God,

I know you through my salt crusted 
forehead and dirty fingers, I know you
through scum and dung and
desperation. O my God, I
feel you in gripped fists and blazing eyes.

A thousand years of humble homilies
a desert kindred upthrust and by
now - forgotten the forked tongue.
why should we be sheep when you made
us men?

we used to speak with the jawbones of
the wild ass, long-haired
nomads, singing in 
roughspun wool. 

I’m ba­si­cally us­ing my rusty an­thro­po­log­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion and sundry other learn­ing to ex­press ex­as­per­a­tion re­gard­ing the Christian em­pha­sis that we are sheep and God shep­herds us. That’s an easy metaphor used by a no­madic tribe of herders to ex­plain their the­ol­ogy in terms they could un­der­stand. Since sheep are con­sid­ered re­mark­ably dumb and meek, it’s also a use­ful way for, say, a priestly hi­er­ar­chy to en­force con­trol and ad­her­ence for a few thou­sand years. 

We can be God’s and be men as well. He’s not the God of sheep.

Cuckoo Wasps

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

and as the winged
insects pour forth from hinged
skull, a stretch no
more than reason - the timbalous
rudiments of flight on frisking
wings - the staples of summered
dusk - late sun shattering
on nicks of stained
glass - of infiltration - a
stolen clasp of mind - a
decanted vacuum where
once built an inside city
- fed upon by bandit
brilliance and husked by
the great abatement

there appears in the sky
the first swallow
of many.

This is one of those flank­ing po­ems, like a sheep­dog, spi­ral­ing in on a point that, in this case, re­mains shrouded in the metaphor. Basically the idea is that ideas are all mostly stolen. They’re pretty food, and when you all of yours get eaten by some­thing, you can al­ways eat some­one else’s. Still not ex­actly right, but over-ex­plain­ing doesn’t do much to sate the ap­petite.